Heavenly Farmer Cheese Blintzes

Farmer Cheese Blintzes

Heavenly Farmer Cheese Blintzes

An enjoyable dinner at the new Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse here in Las Vegas and the approaching Jewish High Holy Days curiously inspired us to make homemade blintzes.

We discovered that infamous Jewish mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky were huge fans of the Cheese Blintzes at Ratner’s Restaurant. Founded in 1905 and located on the Lower East Side of New York City, Ratner’s did not serve meat in deference to the kosher prohibition against mixing milk with meat. They served a Jewish kosher dairy menu with cheese blintzes as one of the most loved dishes.

Growing up, our Jewish pancakes were always stuffed with farmer cheese, but, alas, not the easiest cheese to find in modern times… As luck would have it, my friends at Lifeway Kefir make Farmer Cheese that is happily having a resurgence. It is a cultured soft cheese made from an old world recipe with a distinctive tangy flavor, and packed with probiotics. Feeling nostalgic for Jewish comfort foods from our youth, we found the perfect authentic filling for our blintzes.

We prefer our blintzes cooked in browned butter for a nuttier taste and on the slightly crispy side, always served with the obligatory sour cream and lots of other complementary toppings. Here’s our recipe….

Farmer Cheese Blintzes Recipe

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Julia Child’s Upside-Down Martini

Julia Child's Upside-Down Martini

Julia Child’s Upside-Down Martini

Joyeux Anniversaire Julia Child! Today would have been Julia’s 108th birthday. It has been a tradition to celebrate her birthday on Taste With The Eyes for the past several years.

This year, let’s raise a toast to Julia with one of her favorite cocktails, the Upside-Down Martini also known as a reverse or “wet” martini, made with five parts vermouth to one part gin. We are going to craft Julia’s special drink with exclusively French alcools.

Noilly Prat was a favorite of Julia’s, a fine vermouth, beautifully crafted by the sea in the South of France. It is made with 14 global herbs and spices such as chamomile and coriander from Morocco, bitter orange from Tunisia, and orris root from Italy.

Diplôme Dry Gin has been produced in France since 1945 from a selection of the finest natural botanicals including genever berries, whole lemons, angelica, saffron, and fennel seed. The original recipe was perfected during WWII in the City of Dijon. At the end of the war, the original recipe became the official gin for the American Army stationed in Europe.

With naturally less alcohol than a traditional martini, Julia would say, “The best thing about a reverse martini is that you can have two of them!” (Full upside-down martini recipe below).

Julia Child Birthday
Rouen, France – Novembre 1948

A Historic Re-Creation

Please join me as I re-create Julia Child’s very first meal in France, one that she experienced with her husband Paul Child. The story takes place in Rouen, France in November of 1948.

I originally wrote this post back in 2007. I resurrect it in August, sometimes with a new recipe, to celebrate Julia Child’s birthday. This year I am including a drink that she especially liked, the Upside-Down Martini.

The text is as she describes her meal to us in My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme, published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006.

The re-creation photographs are ones that I have taken on my travels; some are from France, others from California, a couple are shot in my own home. I use the sepia tone to give the images the feel of a single place over 70 years ago.

Come, let’s travel back in time and enjoy French food and revel in its perfection via Julia…

Julia Child’s First Meal in France

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Chilled Kefir Soup

Chilled Kefir SoupChilled Kefir Soup With Cucumber,
Herbs, Edible flowers, and Kefir “Waves”

This hot weather calls for a cool refreshing light lunch. How does Chilled Kefir Soup with Cucumber and Herbs served with home-baked seeded artisan bread and a glass of un-oaked chardonnay sound? How about we serve it Spa Style, in the pool. Put on your swimming suit and let’s do lunch!

Chilled Kefir SoupChilled Kefir Soup Recipe

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“Mayfair Supper Club” Tomato Salad

Mayfair Supper Club Tomato Salad

Mayfair Supper Club Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomatoes and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Green Olive/Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette, Shallots, Baby Basil

If you’ve been following Taste With The Eyes for a while, you know that I love to re-create dishes. Not just the food but the entire experience, including the ambience right down to the china, glass, and silver.

One of my most cherished creative outlets is to re-create historical events through food. The Abraham Lincoln Dinner at Delmonico’s on February 12, 1900; Barack Obama’s 57th Inaugural Luncheon; Donald Trump’s 58th Inaugural Luncheon; and Julia Child’s First Meal in France are a few examples of many of my favorite re-creations.

The most popular by far is the re-enactment of Julia Child’s first meal in France in 1948 including her recipe for Sole Meunière. I also visually attempt to reconstruct her experience in a beautiful courtyard at a little white table beneath a leafy trellis discussing the merits of  Loup de Mer; and her charming memory of Tijuana, Mexico and Caesar Cardini in her kitchen preparing Caesar Salad and Salmon en Papillote.

Mayfair Supper Club @Bellagio Las Vegas

An evening at the Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio in Las Vegas was worth re-creating. We had a fantastic meal where we were mesmerized by the entertainment, awed by the ambiance, and impressed by the service.

The humble tomato salad was as memorable as the over-the-top duo of truffle dishes – filet mignon with sauce perigourdine and truffle pasta. The salad was shot in my atelier, attempting to duplicate the chef’s recipe from taste memory and mimicking the ambiance of the supper club (with some jazz tunes playing in the background of course).

Mayfair Supper Club Tomato Salad Recipe

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Savory Greek Yogurt Parfait

Savory Greek Yogurt Parfait

Savory Greek Yogurt with Kale Pesto
Recipe by Nicole Putzel

With the summer solstice fast approaching, I decided to choose a recipe from the “Summer” section of Nicole’s veggie-centric cookbook, The Seasoned Plate: Delicious and Healthy Real Food.

This Greek Yogurt parfait is super fresh, colorful, and mighty flavorful.  Kale pesto is simultaneously earthy, nutty, garlicky, and salty. All these savory flavors harmonize with the creamy yogurt and are layered with blackberries, tomatoes, avocado, and walnuts for a delightful healthy cool lunch on a hot day.

Yogurt Parfait Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway!

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Kale Salad with Lemon Basil Buttermilk Ranch

Kale Salad with Lemon Basil Buttermilk Ranch

Kale Salad with Lemon Basil Buttermilk Ranch,
Breadcrumbs and Parmesan
Recipe by Nicole Putzel

Kale kale kale can get kinda boring but as the torn leaves mingle with her awesome Lemon Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, this “simple” salad emerges as anything but. Chef Nicole Putzel has managed to create an alluring salad where fresh breadcrumbs add a toasty crunchy texture while parmesan cheese adds salty, nutty, umami notes. All the various complex flavors in the dressing take the humble chopped kale to another level.

Nicole wrote,“Lemon basil is my absolute favorite variety of the herb. It has a bright citrusy flavor that is sweeter than traditional basil. The lemon basil gives the buttermilk ranch dressing an extra punch and tastes delicious with raw kale. The dressing recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of dressing , so you’ll have plenty left over to use in other salads.”

Kale Salad Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway!

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Vegetarian Springtime Rigatoni

Vegetarian Springtime Rigatoni

Rigatoni with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Buffalo Mozzarella
Recipe by Nicole Putzel

All hailing from Chicagoland, Chef Nicole Putzel and I were virtually introduced a few years back by our mutual friend and discerning foodie, Peg. We recently thought it might be fun to collaborate on some of our cooking experiences, especially during these challenging times.

Nicole sent me a copy of her delightful book just published last year, The Seasoned Plate: Delicious and Healthy Real Food. She says, “This cookbook is the result of a beautiful recipe: one of food, friendship, and wellness, told by the seasons.”

Throughout the seasons, Nicole would create a vegetable-centric recipe every Friday, often harvesting the produce from her own organic garden. Her friend Photographer Claudia Chocano would shoot the dishes, after which they would partake of the fruits of their labors together.

The first recipe I chose from the Spring section was this fresh, vibrant, vegetarian rigatoni dish. Nicole wrote, “This colorful pasta dish came together on an evening  when my house was filled with company and my guests asked for a tour of the vegetable garden. The broccoli, arugula, and basil were all ready for harvest and everyone was hungry, so voilà! This was a true crowd pleaser.”

Springtime Rigatoni Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway!

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